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Is blood magic an XP sink, or is it overpowered?

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  • Hello
    started a topic Is blood magic an XP sink, or is it overpowered?

    Is blood magic an XP sink, or is it overpowered?

    I have read many posts that have claimed that blood sorcery is an xp sink, yet at the same time I see many posts asking how to deal with a player who is somehow breaking the game using thaumaturgy. I have seen many different responses and am still confused.

    So my questions for you....

    Is blood magic really, that expensive?

    Are those who complain about how game breaking blood magic wrong? Or are they right, and is V5 blood sorcery really a breath of fresh air?

    Would limiting the type of paths you are allowed to use in game, or limiting what you can do with a certain path, solve the problem entirely?
    For example, no Lure of flames, or at the very least not allowing you to use it when you astral project.

    Is blood magic really that versatile? Common disciplines like dominate, presence, auspex, celerity, etc, seem a lot more useful.

    I am not dissing anyone, I am legitimately curious.
    Last edited by Hello; 04-13-2022, 01:44 PM.

  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    [quote]
    Ultimately, Thaumatury, and to an extent even V5's Blood Sorcery, are a completely different system from the rest of the powers that you kind of get locked into. You can't "dip" into Thaumaturgy, or it's a horrible XP sink. But if you completely commit to Thaumaturgy you get a good bang for your buck, to the point where everything else becomes something of an XP sink (making it seem OP).
    /QUOTE]
    Path magic is a horrible XP sink, but there's a lot going for a 2-3 dot investment and getting a lot of rituals rather than paths. The 2-3 dot range has some fantastic rituals like..

    1: Domino of life, wake with evening freshness, various rituals to store extra blood.
    2: Buerocratic condemnation, Donning the mask of shadows (way too strong), Machine blitz
    3: Clinging of the insect, Incorporeal passage, Wards if relevant to your game.

    There are obviously rituals that make 4 and 5 great investments (ward against kindred and the one where you make a contract stand out particularly well)
    But yeah, it takes a lot of time to learn these (I realize you get a free ritual every time you level up your thaumaturgy, but really, leveling up should be the result of learning a path+ritual above your level AND transforming yourself towards being capable of higher level thaumaturgy IE it should take a long time. Most common paths at level 1 or 2 are garbage, with a few notable exceptions, so really your getting these levels for rituals. Most discipline powers are stronger and more applicable than thaumaturgy of their level.
    Last edited by MyWifeIsScary; 04-16-2022, 01:13 AM.

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  • Thoth
    replied
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    The Exalted example is probably not a great one because what's necessary for a crafter to be "functional" is the thing of flame wars because the goal of any crafting system is a lot less defined than combat in terms of "success" means beyond having good odds of rolling well. Crafting also just does way more in Exalted. I can make a maxed out by mortal standards blacksmith in V20 and still have lots of points left compared to trying to max out combat stuff. But Crafts doesn't really do you that much in V20, as the few ways to up your crafting to magical levels aren't worth the price, the impact of crafting is completely up to your ST, and there's no way to craft magic (the limited ability for vampires to make magical items doesn't require they make the things themselves; which also applies to pretty much any WoD supernatural).
    Yes and no. I find that Crafting like my example of Path of Conjuration really boils down to the IRL knowledge of the player/ST and a dash of creativity.

    I agree the cainites have never really been designed to be crafters, though the one Potence alt power that allowed any weapon made with it was permanently Agg damage was rather fun. The Kuei-jin actually had a much easier time producing artifacts and talismans, though the system was more or less lifted from WtA.

    The closest to power creep with vampires and crafting you can get is really the custom weapons or custom ammo that technically can be produced. But rather than putting a ton of xp into crafting skills you can just get a few dots in Background Contacts and Resources, and just have the stuff custom built and shipped to you.

    Technically if you built your crafter in certain ways, you could gains lots of boons from other vampires, but nothing in a direct mechanical sort of way. You can be a skilled tailor/seamstress who can integrate body armor or neck guards into modern fashions or you could have the skills to restore antiquities which means most elders will be hitting you up for giving their beloved collections some much needed TLC.

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    The Exalted example is probably not a great one because what's necessary for a crafter to be "functional" is the thing of flame wars because the goal of any crafting system is a lot less defined than combat in terms of "success" means beyond having good odds of rolling well. Crafting also just does way more in Exalted. I can make a maxed out by mortal standards blacksmith in V20 and still have lots of points left compared to trying to max out combat stuff. But Crafts doesn't really do you that much in V20, as the few ways to up your crafting to magical levels aren't worth the price, the impact of crafting is completely up to your ST, and there's no way to craft magic (the limited ability for vampires to make magical items doesn't require they make the things themselves; which also applies to pretty much any WoD supernatural).

    ------

    Ultimately, Thaumatury, and to an extent even V5's Blood Sorcery, are a completely different system from the rest of the powers that you kind of get locked into. You can't "dip" into Thaumaturgy, or it's a horrible XP sink. But if you completely commit to Thaumaturgy you get a good bang for your buck, to the point where everything else becomes something of an XP sink (making it seem OP).

    If you had to pick between either being a Discipline vampire, or a blood magic vampire, it would probably be less of an issue. It's that both are expected to share the same place in PC traits that causes issues that can result in both XP sink and OPness at the same time.

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  • TwoDSix
    replied
    I'd argue that's partially an issue with just feeling like you need to add new powers in general. Which is likely also how Masquerade began with nine Disciplines (plus Thaumaturge) in the corebook that represented standard vampire powers, to every new Clan and Bloodline getting a unique Discipline by the Player's Guide.

    Thaumaturgic Paths had it worse than Disciplines because they weren't given the necessity of having to come with a new Clan or Bloodline. Combined with an even greater variety of power and versatility levels compared to Disciplines and Thaumaturge ranged from fine to overpowered to an XP sink depending on how much a player invested in it and what Paths they took

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  • Thoth
    replied
    Part of the issue is that every now and then the writers seem to pick one section of powers to stuff all the new things into, thus the xp cost to "master" the section gets exponentially higher with every passing book release. In VtM it was all the Thaumaturgy and Necromancy paths, in Exalted 2nd edition it was how there were dozens of Martial Arts styles, or in WtA there was just page upon page of charms.

    In Exalted 2nd edition you could make a fully functional solar combat build from character generation, have build room to spare for personalization and more or less finish an end game build around 75+ xp afterwards. Conversely if you built a solar crafter from character generation with no personalization it would take you close to 250+ xp to make them functional, let alone mastery grade that has all the things.

    I have often wondered if anyone during the next edition design process tries to reverse engineer a character build, as in if you can't build a fully functional meta build within X amount of xp, then the system needs rebalancing. Assuming 5 xp per game, that means 50 xp is 10 games worth of progression, imagine being 10 games deep into play and still not being able to shoot a gun or swing a sword all that well despite having a combat character.

    This is why Blood Magic often gets an xp sink designation, in ten games most builds are competent at their roles and are beginning to diversify, while the magic users are almost hitting their stride at being able to do stuff in their main roll.

    I would also be remiss if I didn't point out that most magic mechanics are less straight forward in power curve than other abilities. Using V20 mechanics a vampire with Protean, Fortitude, Celerity, and Potence has a specific damage range potential and type of damage as well. This means there is little to debate or be surprised by other than rolling really well or very poorly.

    On the other hand a Thaumaturge with the Path of Conjuration can create a fire bomb to incinerate his enemies, a laptop to hack their bank accounts, a wooden stake if none is at hand, or create a 55 gallon drum of Chlorine Triflouride (sets fire to and burns things like bricks, cement, concrete, asbestos). So the variety of uses alone means stuff comes out of left field all the time and if the player has IRL knowledge of certain things, then the ST will be spending a lot of time googling just to figure out what their player just did to the game.

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  • TwoDSix
    replied
    Honestly the big advantage of Requiem Blood Sorcery is that each style (including Coils of the Dragon) has its own specialties. While I believe that's true for Koldunism, Settite Sorcery, and Assamite Sorcery, it's not really true for pre-V5 Thaumaturge who's theme is fantasy wizard magic.

    Paths aren't also inherently bad, and for things like Lure of flames having sorcerers learn the weakest version first and then progress to stronger flames makes complete sense. However not all paths are so straightforward, even if they have thematic consistency.

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  • Leandro16
    replied
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    I think Requiem probably struck the best balance here:

    1) All Blood Sorcery is rituals. There's no individual powers per level besides a free ritual. Even with V5's abbreviated power cap, juggling powers from the Discipline and Rituals has never been a good balance, and turning Blood Sorcery into just another Discipline takes away a lot of its Charm (VtMB 1's implementation of Thaumaturgy never really makes you feel like a vampire wizard).

    2) The different schools of Blood Sorcery are mostly defined by the sacrifices you make to power the rituals. Cruac's sacrifice is lots of blood to bind the power of the Beast, and Humanity risk for making the Beast your power source. Theban Sorcery has a "lighter" sacrifice in Willpower and ritual objects, but the ritual objects power is directly related to how hard they are to obtain (and frequently get destroyed either during the ritual or after the effect ends to make that a bigger hurdle). You can really spin out dozens of these to make sure that Tremere Thaumaturgists feel different from Banu Haqim sorcerers, Abyssal mystics, and so on.

    3) A pretty solid ritual design system that can be used in a number of ways that also helps fine tune the power of Blood Sorcery in individual games. It can just be a resource for the ST/players to homebrew rituals to help populate the local ones so there's a good selection and not have to lean on the example ones in the books since there aren't that many and it makes it hard to do what TwoDSix suggested by only having some of them available which just ends in very samey local blood wizards. It can be used to model the in-game process of research and creation of new rituals as something to engage to give the PCs a bit more say in what they can do, but it creates a lot of opportunity costs to relying on making new rituals to solve all your problems. If you want more powerful blood magic, you can even use it to do on-the-fly rituals as a costly but flexible way to creatively channel that power that makes it more unpredictable and scary (both to be subjected to, and to use the risky option).
    Requiem is indeed the perfection of blood sorcery mechanics. You feel like a true wizard because you are buying spells not paths. You may buy a blood whip and a healing spell separately for example if you have the dots. Also each school of magic has a different feeling
    • Cruac is beastly and penalices your humanity but is more easy to use
    • Theban sorcery is more akin to a miracle, you expend will power to use it instead of blood but in exhange it does not penalice your humanity

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    I think Requiem probably struck the best balance here:

    1) All Blood Sorcery is rituals. There's no individual powers per level besides a free ritual. Even with V5's abbreviated power cap, juggling powers from the Discipline and Rituals has never been a good balance, and turning Blood Sorcery into just another Discipline takes away a lot of its Charm (VtMB 1's implementation of Thaumaturgy never really makes you feel like a vampire wizard).

    2) The different schools of Blood Sorcery are mostly defined by the sacrifices you make to power the rituals. Cruac's sacrifice is lots of blood to bind the power of the Beast, and Humanity risk for making the Beast your power source. Theban Sorcery has a "lighter" sacrifice in Willpower and ritual objects, but the ritual objects power is directly related to how hard they are to obtain (and frequently get destroyed either during the ritual or after the effect ends to make that a bigger hurdle). You can really spin out dozens of these to make sure that Tremere Thaumaturgists feel different from Banu Haqim sorcerers, Abyssal mystics, and so on.

    3) A pretty solid ritual design system that can be used in a number of ways that also helps fine tune the power of Blood Sorcery in individual games. It can just be a resource for the ST/players to homebrew rituals to help populate the local ones so there's a good selection and not have to lean on the example ones in the books since there aren't that many and it makes it hard to do what TwoDSix suggested by only having some of them available which just ends in very samey local blood wizards. It can be used to model the in-game process of research and creation of new rituals as something to engage to give the PCs a bit more say in what they can do, but it creates a lot of opportunity costs to relying on making new rituals to solve all your problems. If you want more powerful blood magic, you can even use it to do on-the-fly rituals as a costly but flexible way to creatively channel that power that makes it more unpredictable and scary (both to be subjected to, and to use the risky option).

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  • TwoDSix
    replied
    I'm not certain that fifth edition hedge magic isn't going to be all rituals. But yes, V5 Blood Sorcery could probably stand to be a bit broader, especially with the weakened Tremere.

    Honestly, the best way to deal with the potential breadth of Thaumaturge is to limit the knowledge any one Chantry (or other blood sorcery group) has access to. Suggest the ST pick or randomly determine a number of Paths and give a chance for a specific ritual to just not be in the books. If you're Tremere/Banu Haqim you can probably still get it, but it's going to cost you even more than normal.
    Last edited by TwoDSix; 04-14-2022, 06:23 AM.

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  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    percieved power is different from actual power, and thaumaturge pcs are going to give the impression that they're bullshitting: thaumaturges are going to say things like "I cast X and it'll solve the complex problem the ST set up in a jiffy". On the otherhand the character with potence can simply break out of his cage and jump over the wall, but he doesn't need to anounce so much and his abilities seem less like tricks and more like something his character has developed as an intrinsic part of them. Most disciplines offer a small selection of tools that work for a lot of problems, while Thaumaturgy is a massive toolset although each tool has a more specified roll. The thaumaturgical toolbox is bigger and the user gets more chance to show off his tools which are far shinier, but opening the box is a pain and everyone is using a more convenient tool pouch. The Thaumaturge comes across like a rich kid, and it's annoying, and some of his tools are very enviable, but he's not any better at his job (at least untill he's spent a lot more on his tools than you have)

    One thing people miss about rituals is that they do actually take a lot of time to learn. Time you could've better spent obtaining or maintaining backgrounds or building relationships. If someone's learning rituals in downtime, everybody else should be getting a comparable amount of backgrounds. As useful as rituals are, backgrounds are better. In the long run, rituals have their advantages, since retainers and allies have upkeep and tend to die while you're not really limited to how many rituals you can have and aren't going to forget a ritual. In addition thaumaturgy is a good way to get favours and trade for more backgrounds. However, learning a high level ritual is a really good way to give up on backgrounds since maintainence is very difficult when you're spending months learning how to do something and your rivals can easily take advantage of that. In the short timeframe of the usual player campaigns, learning rituals is usually worse than having an extra dot or two of backgrounds. It's not OP if you run things right.

    You should also consider the ingame social impact of playing a thaumaturge. Vampires are jealous creatures and showing off your flashy powers is a terrible idea if you don't have a big organization like the Tremere at your back: The prince can easily call you a devil worshiper and have you killed if he doesn't want to repay his debts to you. Someone will very likely try to enslave you so they can have their own pocket wizard at their beck and call, or they'll want to steal what's yours. If you dare to share your knowledge, other thaumaturges will become your enemies since you're devaluing their services. If you aren't Tremere, then paranoia is the order of the day. If you are Tremere, you've got a lot of baggage with you.


    Concerning V5
    V5 absolutely does thaumaturges dirty.
    Firstly, Thaumaturgy has the same complexity as once-simple disciplines like Celerity. So yeah you're not showing off as much because other players are now shouting out their special moves, so you're no longer special and they're no longer using easy to remember and intuitive powers that they can use low key.

    Second, "Blood Sorcery" denies the metaphysics of why thaumaturgy worked. IE it was a wonderful power all splats could learn with some variation as all human souls could learn some kind of hedge magic, it was simply an innate part of the human condition to be able to improve and achieve mystical powers. It's also just less attractive because it's all about blood and being a vampire and there's nothing miraculous or enlightening like conjuring fire or striving to become human again. It's also less attractive because it's Weak. Because it's less attractive, you don't need to be so paranoid about it when you're a user, which sucks shit because Fear is really the prime motivator for most vampire behaviours.

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  • Matt the Bruins fan
    replied
    Making most of the things Blood Sorcery can do rituals that take time and effort to set up works a lot better for flavor imho. Even though I like playing sorcerers, the sheer number of Thaumaturgy Paths and their increasing detachment from folkloric vampire powers got ridiculous after a while.

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  • SetiteFriend
    replied
    What issues with implementation? I find it hard to believe it is a "power gamer magnet", especially considering how often I see people complaining it is underpowered and too nerfed.

    Besides, rituals take time to learn and to cast, ingredients, a teacher, and while less expensive compared to discipline levels, they aren't cheap, especially higher level ones. Not being limited like powers is part of the disciplines strength.

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    Thaumaturgy's versatility and appeal to power gamers was intentional as well. The Tremere's whole role in the Camarilla was built on their ability to have a Path or Ritual to cover things nobody else could.

    That doesn't change the issues with implementation.

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  • SetiteFriend
    replied
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    Even V5 didn't address one of the issues that makes blood magics a problem:

    You can keep buying rituals. Compared to the earlier editions that doesn't seem great, but in V5 you only get five powers per Discipline. Period. No matter how many options Auspex gives you, you only get five of them. Even Oblivion's Ceremonies are limited in how many you can get. A Blood Sorcerer can buy as many rituals as they can get the chance to study and spend the XP on. The ability to buy rituals to make up for the powers you couldn't take because of that hard cap retains Blood Sorcery as a power gamer magnet.
    That you can keep buying rituals is very much intentional and a strength of the discipline in V5, to quote the corebook: "Its regular powers seem comparatively weak, but the versatility of the Rituals more than compensates, assuming the user can learn them".

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